India huffed and puffed but their efforts were in vain. The under-16 boys lost 1-2 to fourth-seeded Chinese Taipei in their opening Group D round-robin match of the Junior Davis Cup Asia/Oceania final qualifying on Monday.
First up on Court I at the DLTA was India No. 2 Fatehdeep Singh against Chih-Chun Tang. Backed by a vociferous crowd, the 15-year-old from Chandigarh made several unforced errors and choked during important points, but still managed to pull off the first set in the tie-break.
Fatehdeep couldn't keep up the momentum, and after 223 minutes under the sweltering sun, hit a forehand return of serve into the net to allow Chinese Taipei go up 1-0. Fatehdeep lost 7-6 (3), 3-6, 1-6.
India No. 1 Shaik Abdullah then restored parity. Playing Wen-Chun Liang, the 16-year-old from Hyderabad lost the first set 4-6 but did not lose hope. Slowly and steadily, after an hour and 49 minutes, Abdullah raised his arms in victory as the scoreboard read 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in India's favour.
It then boiled down to the deciding doubles as Abdullah and Fatehdeep took on Tang and Wen-Po Tseng. It was the unforced errors that cost the Indians dear. After a nail-biting first set, which they lost 6-8 in the tie-break, the Indians were served a bagel in the second.
"We lost a winning tie," said a visibly dejected captain Vishal Uppal. "I am not disappointed with the scores but with the level of effort. You need to have the hunger to win. Shaik had it in him today, so he pulled it off."
India must overcome sixth-seeded China on Tuesday to keep their quarterfinal hopes alive. "We hope to pull it off," added Uppal.